Happy New Year everyone!
Now that the festive season is well and truly over, it’s time for the annual onslaught of ads telling us that it’s time to lose weight, which will automatically solve all our problems and make us better people.
It’s even worse if you’re getting married. I follow a few different wedding publications on social media, and it feels like every other post I see is about losing weight (even in ‘10 things every bride should do before the wedding’ articles, I can guarantee the first thing will be a version of ‘Lose weight, tone up, no-one wants to look back on photos and think wow, I look like a whale’), and, as a stressed out bride that has enough to worry about thanks, it makes me pretty bloody angry.
I’ve already made my thoughts on the exploitative ‘Shedding for the wedding’ nonsense clear (see this post), but this fantastic article from Rock ‘n Roll Bride puts it much better than I ever could – the whole time I was reading it, I thought ‘Yes, this. Exactly this’. http://www.rocknrollbride.com/2012/06/weight-loss-and-weddings/?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=Official+Facebook+Page
Talking of weight loss and the like, I recently took part in #BullyingIsAbuse, an anti-bullying campaign the lovely Miss Evelyn-Jo (vintage blogger extraordinaire, global ambassador for Pin-Up’s Against Bullying and Dames for Dreams and advocate for the ChooseREAL campaign) created, where people shared some of the horrible things that have been said to them over the years.
For me, it was a comment a friend made about my weight when we were children, which I imagine they forgot soon after they said it. As someone who has struggled with their own body image for as long as I can remember, I think campaigns like this are wonderful – hopefully if people understand the impact their words can have on someone for years afterwards, they’ll stop and think before they say something thoughtlessly cruel.
I really admire Miss Evelyn-Jo for all the brilliant work she does around body image and body positivity, (and, of course, her fantastic vintage style) and wanted to hear more. She very kindly agreed to answer a few of my questions, because she’s nice…
How did you get into blogging, and what are your favourite, and most challenging aspects, of it?
I decided to have a go at blogging in May 2015 after feeling the need to find a new hobby and do something creative. I always loved writing when I was younger and also loved taking pictures. But sometimes your hobbies can get pushed to one side as you get caught up in the rat race of life such as commuting and working. I love vintage and the glamour of hair and makeup so taking inspiration from other bloggers and pin-ups I admire such as Miss Victory Violet and Cherry Dollface, I decided to have a go at doing something similar myself. I love meeting new people through doing what I do, and I have met so many amazing and inspiring women. One of the most challenging aspects I find is trying to get to all the vintage events! Unfortunately it is not possible to attend every one although I would love to.
You’re doing some great work on various anti-bullying and body positivity campaigns – what drew you to Choose Real and Pin-Up’s Against Bullying?
I came across both campaigns on Instagram. Instagram is fabulous because you can search such a wide variety of hashtags to find something that relates to you or what you are looking for. I had been in contact with the founder of Pin-up’s Against Bullying [Mrs T Marie] after I mentioned them in a US radio interview I did with Love Liberty and Lipgloss over the summer where I discussed my blog, body shaming and aspects of bullying. Both campaigns encourage girls and women to love and be proud of themselves. They also educate, empower and inspire girls and women that they are just enough as they are. The hashtag of ChooseReal Campaign is #morethanenough and I think that is such a powerful statement. I am Global Ambassador and England Chapter Advocate for Pin-up’s Against Bullying and an Advocate for ChooseReal Campaign. I am also Global Ambassador for Dames For Dreams, which is partnered with Pin-Up’s Against Bullying. Dames for Dreams are also dedicated to helping to build positive self esteem in girls and women. You can find out more about each organisation via their websites – www.pinupsagainstbullying.com/ www.damesfordreams.org/ www.chooserealcampaign.com/
I’ve noticed that the vintage/pin-up scene is generally very supportive and inclusive, particularly when it comes to body positivity. Are like-minded people naturally drawn towards it, or is it something about the community that encourages us to empower each other?
The vintage and pin-up scene can be very supportive and inclusive especially when it comes to body positivity. Again, on Instagram there is a whole world of hashtags and a network of support whether you face skinny shaming, fat shaming, bullying, etcetera. The body positivity movement on Instagram is very supportive and welcoming. A few months ago one of my followers posted a screenshot of a comment a stranger had left on one of her pictures, referring to her as blubber. Because of the hashtags she had used, a lot of people in the body positivity movement saw the picture and instantly surrounded her with love and warmth. She has a very good attitude about things and a strong spirit so she wasn’t going to let the nasty comment affect her, but it was fabulous to see how many people were instantly there offering her love and words of encouragement and support. When you are a victim of something negative and hurtful, you can feel isolated and alone. But the community is growing and is strong so there is so much support out there. The vintage and pin-up scene can be equally as supportive because a lot of the women are strong and empowering. Some of them have worked hard to get to where they are. They are inspiring to others. They too have faced bullying and various aspects of body shaming so know how it can feel to experience it.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone struggling with their body image, what would it be?
I have experienced skinny shaming and fat shaming. When I was younger I would receive comments about how skinny I was and so I would cover up. I was referred to as anorexic, which was upsetting. It wasn’t true. But even if it was, people should not voice their hurtful opinions. You never know how much of an impact your words can have. I have also received fat shaming comments and that too would make me want to cover up, I felt I was “too big” in the eyes of others to wear a bikini or pretty dress.
The vintage and pin-up scene is so varied and there are girls and women of all shapes and sizes and I think this is fantastic because everyone is appreciated and respected. There is no pressure to be a certain size or look a certain way. A few years ago I experienced a severe emotional trauma that knocked me for six. It took a few years to get over and life to me was black and white. Once I started enjoying the colours of living life again, I was going to be damned if I was going to let anyone dictate what I should or should not wear.
Life can be tough. It can be a battle. You never know what is around the corner and you never know what someone is going through. If you want to eat pizza in Rome with your family, do it. If you want to wear a bikini on the beach on your honeymoon, do it. You never know when you might get those chances again.
I now embrace life. I no longer hide myself away because I worry about what people might think. This is my life and it is about making happy memories and if that means doing something that someone else might disapprove of, i.e. someone might think I am not a size zero so I should not wear a bikini then that’s their opinion. What someone thinks of me is none of my business! So long as I am happy and living life to the full, making memories with my nearest and dearest, then the opinions of others don’t mean anything.
My blog feature “Together we are body confident” features over 100 women of all shapes and sizes [www.missevelynjo.com/together-we-are-body-confident]. It is eye opening to see what body hangups people of all shapes and sizes can have. Every single girl and women who took part in that blog feature are inspiring. They are victims of bullying, skinny shaming, fat shaming, abuse…some of them have a disability. But they are rocking the body confidence and they don’t care what anyone says about them. They love life and live life and that is such a beautiful thing to see. It has been viewed in over 80 countries and seen nearly 4000 times. I would hope that at least one person has been inspired and encouraged that they are fabulous just as they are.
Feeling positive about the way I look is a long process, and some days I’m better at it than others. I’m so grateful to bloggers like Miss Evelyn Jo – without them, I’d be sitting in a corner, full of shame and regret about eating that packet of Quavers instead of going for a cross-country hike. The truth is, I like food. A lot. So, if I were, hypothetically, to slim my way down to a size 8 (through the mediums of lots of exercise, fresh air and a pact with the devil himself), I am almost certain that by the time our wedding photos arrived, I’d be looking at them wondering who the hell the woman in the white dress was, standing next to The Boy.
And where’s the fun in that?
If you’d like to read more about Miss Evelyn Jo and the campaigns she’s involved in, you can visit her website is www.missevelynjo.com, or find her on:
Instagram – @missevelynjo
Twitter – @missevelynjo
Facebook – www.facebook.com/msevelynjo